Sen. Angus King: Cybersecurity a major concern in U.S. nuclear command-and-control system – SpaceNews

: With out an sufficient N3C system ‘none of the remainder of it really works’

WASHINGTON — The U.S. nuclear command, management and system that serves because the hyperlink between U.S. nuclear forces and presidential authority may very well be weak to cyber assaults and wishes upgrades, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) advised reporters Might 1.

King, an impartial who caucuses with the Senate’s Democratic majority, is the chairman of the Senate Armed Providers Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces, which oversees the Pentagon’s area, nuclear and strategic deterrence packages.

King and a bipartisan group of senators on Saturday had been briefed on U.S. nuclear modernization efforts at Offutt Air Drive, Nebraska, the place U.S. Strategic Command is headquartered. The senators on Friday additionally toured U.S. nuclear operations at Minot Air Drive Base, North Dakota.

Throughout a name with reporters after the Saturday briefing, King stated the nuclear command, management and communications system generally known as NC3 was a “ level of dialogue” and a “important a part of the briefing” senators acquired at Offutt.

NC3 is a Chilly Struggle-era system of interconnected sensors, communications and early satellites, plane and floor management facilities. The Trump administration in 2018 assigned U.S. Strategic Command the duty for upgrading the NC3 structure so it’s appropriate with fashionable know-how. 

King stated nuclear command and management has change into “far more difficult” and cybersecurity is a excessive precedence. “All I can inform you is that it’s very a lot on the forefront” of the Strategic Command’s plan to improve the system, he stated.

Ongoing discussions about the price of modernizing the U.S. nuclear triad “are likely to give attention to missiles and airplanes and submarines, however command and management is crucial,” King stated. “It actually should be known as the quad, not the triad.”

The U.S. nuclear triad consists of three “legs” — ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, aerial bombers and submarines that may ship nuclear weapons wherever on this planet.

With out an sufficient N3C system, “none of the remainder of it really works,” stated King. 

The growing frequency and class of cyber assaults towards DoD and different authorities techniques is a trigger for concern within the modernization of the NC3, he added. “The following battle will nearly actually begin with a cyber assault to disable communications networks, and communications between the command authority and the forces, whether or not it’s an plane provider or a bomber or a missile web site.”

“It’s a problem of assurance of , to ensure that you’re not lower off,” King stated. “The president has to in a position to talk with the forces to have the ability to subject instructions, to the advice of with advisors.” 

Different senators who participated within the briefing included John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

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